Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombings

Monday:Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombings; (ITV, 9pm)

Lucy Jarvis outside the Manchester Arena. Seriously injured on the night Lucy spent two hours waiting to be taken to hospital
Lucy Jarvis outside the Manchester Arena. Seriously injured on the night Lucy spent two hours waiting to be taken to hospital

On May 22, 2017, the world was shocked by the horrific news that a terrorist had targeted Manchester Arena in a suicide attack, killing 22 innocent people and injuring more than 800 others.

That the target – a concert by US pop singer Ariana Grande – was specifically one heavily attended by children and young people was particularly evil and spoke of unimaginable cruelty from the perpetrators.

This two-part documentary examines the events surrounding the bombing. In line with the ongoing public enquiry, and from the creators of the twice Bafta-nominated and RTS Award-winning documentary Hospital, it investigates whether key opportunities to prevent the attack were missed.

The programme uses new revelations to create a timeline more detailed than any we have seen, while also providing a wider context to the attack. It delves into the role of MI5 and the emergency services, hearing directly from those who were there on the night, and examining why decisions were taken that ended up leaving victims helpless inside.

Another angle taken by the filmmakers is to contrast the lives of the perpetrators – the two British-born brothers who planned and carried out the attack – with those of some of their victims, from their respective childhoods to the moment that these two disparate groups collided to tragic effect.

The failings of MI5 are analysed, as Lord David Anderson, who was tasked by the Government to conduct an independent review of the organisation and counter-terror policing in the wake of the attack, states: “Some important intelligence on [bomber Salman] Abedi linking him to terrorism was missed early in 2017. MI5 interpreted that intelligence as relating to ordinary crime. With hindsight, it’s pretty obvious that that intelligence related to a developing terrorist plot.

“It’s all about setting trip wires, trying to work out which of those former subjects of interest might be likely to re-engage. That’s the trickiest thing of all in what MI5 do.”

The programme hears the powerful, personal stories of those directly impacted by the attack. Paul Swaine, a friend of one of the victims, Martyn Hett, recalls, “Martyn would make you feel like you were the only person in the room. He cared, he looked after people, he was going to be a friend for life.”

Episode two airs on Thursday, when we will re-live the final minutes and seconds in the run-up to the detonation and its immediate aftermath.

Ahead of the five-year anniversary, and spanning multiple continents, both parts of this special documentary ask the same questions: how could an attack such as this have happened, and what can we do to stop it happening again?

There is, however, some hope. We hear how the survivors are rebuilding their lives and are looking to the future. For example Hannah, who attended the concert, says: “My goal was to be able to go to a concert again, which I was able to do and see Ariana’s next tour. I never thought I’d be able to do that again.”

Proof if it were needed that terror will never prevail.